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Heavily spiced, honey-based.
Milk Street Bowtie Gingerbread Pepper Cookies (Pierniki)

Gingerbread Pepper Cookies (Pierniki)

1 hour Plus chilling and cooling

Free

Poland's honey-based gingerbread is heavily spiced. To replicate that and get the most flavor from our spices, we infused them into the honey. This both drew out their flavors and distributed them more evenly through the cookies. A dark, robust honey stands up nicely to the intensity of the spices and the nuttiness of the rye flour. Our favorite was buckwheat honey, which has notes of molasses. Clover honey worked well, too, but avoid honeys with a distinct floral sweetness, such as orange blossom and wildflower. Traditional pierniki dough is aged for days or even weeks, but we opted to chill the dough for only two hours or up to overnight; if time allows, bake the cookies the day before serving, as their flavor improves with resting. These can be decorated several ways. Rolling the dough balls in turbinado sugar before baking creates a pretty, crackled appearance. Alternatively, you can drizzle the baked and cooled cookies with an espresso glaze that pairs well with the spices.

260 grams (¾ cup) buckwheat or clover honey
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
210 grams (1½ cups) rye flour
195 grams (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
100 grams (½ cup) packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
240 grams (1 cup) turbinado sugar or espresso glaze
Ingredients
  • 260

    grams (¾ cup) buckwheat or clover honey

  • 8

    tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter

  • teaspoons ground black pepper

  • 1

    tablespoon ground ginger

  • 1

    teaspoon cinnamon

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 210

    grams (1½ cups) rye flour

  • 195

    grams (1½ cups) all-purpose flour

  • ½

    teaspoon baking soda

  • 1

    tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

  • 100

    grams (½ cup) packed light brown sugar

  • ½

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1

    large egg

  • 240

    grams (1 cup) turbinado sugar or espresso glaze

Directions
  1. 01
    In a small saucepan over medium, combine the honey, butter, pepper, cinnamon, ground ginger and cardamom. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then transfer to a medium bowl. Let cool until warm, 20 to 30 minutes.
    See Demo
    Gingerbread Pepper Cookies (Pierniki) 1
  2. 02
    In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours and the baking soda. Into the honey mixture, stir the fresh ginger, brown sugar and salt. Add the egg and mix until well combined, then stir in the flour mixture. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
    See Demo
    Gingerbread Pepper Cookies (Pierniki) 2
  3. 03
    Heat the oven to 350°F with the racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with kitchen parchment. Put the turbinado sugar, if using, in a small bowl.  Pinch off 1-tablespoon bits from the chilled dough disk and roll them between the palms of your hands into 1-inch balls. If using turbinado sugar, roll each ball in the sugar to coat evenly. Divide the dough balls between the prepared baking sheets, spacing them evenly. Lightly press each one with your hand to flatten to ¼ inch thick.
    See Demo
    Gingerbread Pepper Cookies (Pierniki) 3
  4. 04
    Bake until light golden brown at the edges and slightly cracked on top, 10 to 12 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. If using espresso glaze, use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. Let the glaze dry for 30 minutes.
    See Demo
    Gingerbread Pepper Cookies (Pierniki) 4
Tip: Don't chill the cookie dough for longer than 12 hours or the cookies will bake up cakey and thick.
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Gingerbread Pepper Cookies (Pierniki)

Get Ready to Cook

40

Cookies

1 hour

Plus chilling and cooling

Tip

Don't chill the cookie dough for longer than 12 hours or the cookies will bake up cakey and thick.

Ingredients
  • 260

    grams (¾ cup) buckwheat or clover honey

  • 8

    tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter

  • teaspoons ground black pepper

  • 1

    tablespoon ground ginger

  • 1

    teaspoon cinnamon

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 210

    grams (1½ cups) rye flour

  • 195

    grams (1½ cups) all-purpose flour

  • ½

    teaspoon baking soda

  • 1

    tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

  • 100

    grams (½ cup) packed light brown sugar

  • ½

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1

    large egg

  • 240

    grams (1 cup) turbinado sugar or espresso glaze

Step 1 of 4

Combine the spices and simmer

260
grams (¾ cup) buckwheat or clover honey
8
tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
teaspoons ground black pepper
1
teaspoon cinnamon
1
tablespoon ground ginger
½
teaspoon ground cardamom

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the honey, butter, pepper, cinnamon, ground ginger and cardamom. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then transfer to a medium bowl. Let cool until warm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 2 of 4

Form the dough

210
grams (1½ cups) rye flour
195
grams (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
½
teaspoon baking soda
1
tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
100
grams (½ cup) packed light brown sugar
½
teaspoon kosher salt
1
large egg

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours and the baking soda. Into the honey mixture, stir the fresh ginger, brown sugar and salt. Add the egg and mix until well combined, then stir in the flour mixture. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.

Step 3 of 4

Prep the cookies

240
grams (1 cup) turbinado sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F with the racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with kitchen parchment. Put the turbinado sugar, if using, in a small bowl. 


Pinch off 1-tablespoon bits from the chilled dough disk and roll them between the palms of your hands into 1-inch balls. If using turbinado sugar, roll each ball in the sugar to coat evenly. Divide the dough balls between the prepared baking sheets, spacing them evenly. Lightly press each one with your hand to flatten to ¼ inch thick.

Step 4 of 4

Bake and serve

240
grams (1 cup) espresso glaze

Bake until light golden brown at the edges and slightly cracked on top, 10 to 12 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.


If using espresso glaze, use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. Let the glaze dry for 30 minutes.

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